TransGriot, January 8,2009 'Becoming A Quality Black Woman'
Had a wonderful conversation Wednesday with my BFF Maxine that I met during my time in the airline biz and who had a birthday March 30. (Happy belated birthday Max!) She congratulated me for making the Trans 100 and told me she was very proud of moi.
That made me smile because she knew 'The Twin' before I began my very public transition in the middle of Terminals C and D in 1994 and having to deal with all the issues of having to go from zero to femininity in a year that go along with it.
Maxine's reaction after she saw me during that first nerve racking week of transitioning on the job was to walk her elegant self over to my gate as she was coming off her flight, hug me, say, 'What took you so long?" and tell me we needed to chat before she bounced to her next flight.
We did have that frank conversation in the lobby of my gate area a few days later. I valued her opinion about whether I'd make the feminine cut because I knew she was a model who was the face of major ad campaigns in the 70's and 80's. Because she'd done time in the modeling world she read me as a girl like us and called me on it.
One of the things I told her after she expressed her concerns is not only had I done a lot of hard solid thinking about the subject, done everything possible to try and play with the uniform I was issued (and still wasn't happy), I let her know one of my guiding transition principles (and still is) was wanting to be a compliment to Black womanhood, not a detriment to it.
Maxine was one of the cadre of cis and trans women who stayed on my butt to make sure I never lost sight of that goal. They also reminded me (amongst other things) there is a proud legacy and history of struggle attached to being a Black woman. I had to reconcile that with being a Black trans leader and figuring out as part of my ongoing evolution into Black womanhood what type of Black woman I wanted to project to the world.
And as Audre Lorde said, 'If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.'
As I approach the 20 year anniversary next year of me taking the transition plunge, I'm confident enough to say I'm continuing to strive towards becoming that quality Black woman even if some of you think I'm already there.
There is however, always room for improvement.